Thursday 17 January 2019

Sweet Slovenia: A beautiful, budget-friendly option for your next break

From lovely Ljubljana to the spectacular sight of Lake Bled, Deirdre Conroy enjoys a short escorted break in Slovenia.

Lake Bled with St. Marys Church of the Assumption on the small island, surrounded by Julian Alps
Lake Bled with St. Marys Church of the Assumption on the small island, surrounded by Julian Alps
Ljubljana
Lake Bled in Slovenia
Slovenia's coastline
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

Long strips of quayside restaurants, with no cars driving by as you wine and dine, are fairly rare in a capital city. But open markets and quays full of locals and tourists in 'relax' mode...this is the essence of Ljubljana.

I've walked the elegant historic backstreets, toured the hill-top castle and the house of their legendary architect Plečnik, enjoyed a picturesque river cruise for €10, and it's only 4pm. The caves and lakes are next.

Guilty pleasures

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Ljubljana

With all the tours of caves and lakes and hills, it's only right to indulge in Slovene gourmet cuisine at Gostilna Na Gradu inside Ljubljana Castle. A tasting menu of six courses for €45 sees dishes artfully presented - scampi, cuttlefish and corn come in an inky mix, while matured beef with goose liver and vegetable bouquet is so fancy and heavenly.

Food, wine, coffee and delicious ice-cream are very affordable all over the city - an Americano or glass of local wine costs less than €2. Prešeren Square (named after their famous poet) leads to ideal boutique shopping on pedestrian streets, and big open parks, all walking distance from the hotel, so you can burn off the cals and not feel too guilty.

Top Tip

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Lake Bled in Slovenia

Get up early for tours to the cathedral-like Postojna Caves, Slovenian Alps, Lake Bohinj, the famous Lake Bled with its Disney-style castle (above), plus a coastal visit to the Mediterranean and a local vineyard stop at VinaKoper.

Insider intel

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Slovenia's coastline

While Slovenia is not too familiar to Irish tourists, it is bordered by Italy and Austria, so its city architecture and rural farmhouses will feel very familiar if you've visited the Alps. Everybody I met spoke English, the euro is its currency since 2004, and the country seemed to me to be a most litter-free and safe destination.

Glitches

There are no direct flights from Ireland, otherwise everyone on the trip said they would go straight back.

Get there

Deirdre was a guest of Travel Department, which offers five-night short breaks in Slovenia from €699pp to €879pp, including three-star hotel accommodation, transfers and several excursions. Call 01 637 1600 or visit traveldepartment.ie for further information.

Read more:

Slovenia: Europe's unsung ski paradise

 

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